FDDB’s Report on Brno: Central European Fulldome Festival 2015

Brno, a different kind of Festival

Bridging their passion for science with unyielding dedication to the fulldome medium, Brno Observatory and Planetarium hosted the Central European Fulldome Festival on April 14 and 15, 2015.

Usually festivals put together workshops, speeches and screenings. The Central European Fulldome Festival Brno 2015 was very different from the others because it was focused on screenings only: 38 shows in only 2 days!

The program was very dense, with the dome running full time for 2 days. All shows were educational, with the only exceptions being some trailers as well as LICHTMOND – Universe Of Light.

The conference had a total of 130 registrants, the majority from the Czech Republic. The other attendees, in order of numbers (big ones first) were Poland, Slovakia, France, Ukraine, Bulgaria, Germany, Norway and Estonia. There are 5 new digital planetariums in the country as well as a few portables related to commercial activities. The reason for so many new planetarium in this country is because science education has recently been highly supported by the government and has had grants dedicated to the purpose of establishing these planetariums and science centers.

The majority of the attendees were people working in the planetarium field, although there were also a few multimedia and film companies exploring the medium to see what are the potentials for their own business’s opportunities.

Something very interesting: The festival itself was helped by European funds: producers didn't have to pay a penny, not for having their shows in the program nor to attend the festival, not even to display their material in the exposition area.

The Planetarium in Brno

Nice place for a conference!

The location of the planetarium is on the top of a hill right in the city center of Brno. The view from there is amazing. Though it has been around for years, an outstanding renovation of the building and the planetarium makes this definitely one of the most interesting venues in Europe.

Although it's normal – and totally understandable – that something often goes wrong at festivals, here the system ran perfectly for the entire event.
In two days of continuous running for about 12 hours per day, there were no hiccups whatsoever. Everything ran smoothly and shows played one after the other, in groups of three, without even switching on the lamps in-between.

Digital Planetarium Brno Czech Republic

The theater has a 16.5m dome, 11° tilt, 189 seats, and it was renovated in 2013 by RSA Cosmos with a high resolution double projector system on top of the opto-mechanical system (hybrid). As with good practice at any other festival, the lamps were changed just before the event and the calibration was done perfectly: perfect masking, color calibration and perfect blend between the two channels. Fulldome shows looked good in this big dome.

These were the most comfortable seats we have ever experienced in a
planetarium. They tilted back enough to offer full rest for your neck and head. Seating is unidirectional here.

Audio was really powerful, and channels nicely separated. Also very nice LED cove lighting which was also used during the beatbox performance on the celebration night.

As for the people part, the staffing looked very professional. There are 24 very friendly people working at the planetarium, including staff at the reception desk and part-time collaborators. The team that programmed the festival was fun, sharp, and sharply dressed: most of the staff adorned in white with blue neckties – designed by their very own, Pavel Karas, who works at the Planetarium.

And the winners are...

Fulldome Festival Brno 2015 - Panoramic View

At 8pm, right before the gala dinner, everybody came to the dome to learn who the winners are.

For this year’s Central European Fulldome Festival, Czech performer En.dru performed his live beatboxing talent, and it was a smash.

Here are the 3 winners:

Best Movie Award: Dream to Fly, by The Heavens of Copernicus Productions

Best Brno Observatory and Planetarium Director's award: Habitat Earth, by the California Academy of Sciences

Audience award: Polaris, the Space Submarine and the Mystery of the Polar Night, by the Planetarium de Saint-Etienne

Looking forward to next year's edition!

A big surprise afterwards: the world premiere of the very first Brno planetarium production, “Closer to the Stars” by Pavel Karas and Pavel Gabzdyl, who, of course, both work at the planetarium. The production is mostly made of time-lapsed and beautifully rendered scenes made with RSA's Skyexplorer.

The planetarium organized a 2-hr beautiful tour of the city for foreign guests. Brno is the sister city of Vienna, and it resembles it. The history and architecture are simply beautiful. If you ever go to Brno, ask some local people to tell you about the story of the dragon. Also, don't forget to ask why clocks ring the bell at 11am and not at midday.

The facilities were a beautiful gathering point for the screenings, networking, dining and entertainment.

This was a well-, and quite differently, organized festival. This may be in part because the director of the Brno planetarium, the host of the festival, hasn't ever been to any fulldome festival before. Even though he got a lot of inspiration from the Academia Film Olomouc – Europe's biggest festival of documentary films – Planetarium Director Jiří Dušek had no preconceptions about organizing this one, and did a great job!

Cheers Brno! And thank-you for hosting a wonderful fulldome affair!

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